This week at PAX East I got a chance to speak to the guys from En Masse about their Tera announcement and their upcoming foray into the MMO scene, Kritika Online. As you might have heard, Tera is coming to consoles. That’s right, in 2017 Tera will begin a beta for the console version on both PS4 and Xbox.
The team has been diligently working on redesigning their UI for use with controllers, and the game, with its smooth action-y combat, would seem a natural fit for that platform. This is good news for MMO gamers who own consoles, as Tera gives them another great MMO designed to take advantage of all the benefits of their favored platform. En Masse is also looking at potential cross-play possibilities, they seemed very much in favor of the concept, but fans will know how difficult it often is to get Sony and Microsoft to play along. We wish the team luck and can't help but get excited at the prospect.
While that news is exciting enough, what really caught my eye (and ears) was a nice in-depth demo of their new MMO, Kritika. Kritika feels like like your typical MMO, but with most of the downtime removed. Sort of like an action-heavy MMO-lite. There were four players in my run-thru of the demo, a fighter (Berserker), a mage type, a rogue (Cat’s Paw) and a AOE specialist, called a Reaper. I got to play on the Berserker, where I had access to the usual melee attacks and high physical defenses, several special moves, lunges, jump attacks and the like, by using the 1-4 keys. Skills and abilities were very crisp and responsive. I also had the ability to buff myself for short periods, dealing increased damage. Each class eventually can specialize at 15th level.
Dungeons vary in difficulty, and can be run quickly by an experienced group. We started on a medium difficulty run, and, as we were all seasoned gamers, we didn’t run into too much trouble. After each final boss is defeated, the party is graded on the run, with an MVP chosen, etc. This was a nice touch. There are several gameplay modes, including a team-deathmatch mode, where two parties have to defeat their own bosses, while battling each other, in a race to win.
Dungeons can be run quickly, allowing players to get directly to the action, and not costing hours of time. As a player who has a lot going on every day, with family and job constantly poaching time precious game play time, being able to get dungeons finished quickly gives the player a feeling of accomplishment without sacrificing hours every day. This certainly makes the game more approachable and the action is fast-paced and frenetic, easy to pick up, but having enough depth to remain interesting. Graphics during the demo were beautiful and very smooth, with no trace of slowing down or becoming laggy, even during big fights with lots of visual effects and powers.
All in all I am excited to see where Kritika lands in the MMO market. Will streamlined, lean, action-heavy game play appeal to players, or is this another example of MMO fans begging for new ideas and paradigms, but ultimately rejecting them when they arrive? Only time will tell.